Munson Healthcare Pool Therapy Helps Veteran Regain Strength

Erik Foged is a retired Air Force colonel who says he’s made great strides since hitting the pool.

The therapy pool.

It started 15 years ago with a liver issue, then a disease that prevents his blood from clotting.

“The doctors seemed to find more and more issues, I used to say I get a gift every 4 to 6 months and we’d find out I had another condition and another condition,” Foged says.

It got so bad, Foged says he was close to being a wheelchair patient.

While his military career certainly prepared him for a fight, but it was also the cause of his problems.

“Not only had I had toxic exposure early in my military career, but as also the commander of a radar site in Nebraska that was the 5th most toxic waste site in America–they discovered it several years after I left,” he says.

Foged went from a healthy and active person to someone who could hardly get around on his own.

“When I walked in here, I didn’t walk, I shuffled like a more mature person would, dragging my feet just trying to go forward,” he says. “I had lost a lot of strength and I was compensating. I compensated for everything, but using all the wrong muscles.”

Munson Medical Center was where his turnaround began.

Dr. Russell VanHouzen says Foged’s balance was also an issue, so they decided to start him in the pool.

“The pool provides stability for him to do the exercises he needs to do in PT, and I think for people with arthritis in the lower extremities like the knees and hips, the pool works out real well for them too because it takes the weight off those hips and they can do more in the pool too.”

Foged says he is proud of his progress.

“It makes me really proud of myself, I realize my quality of life is so much better and it’s better for my wife and my grown children,” he says. “I can do things with them that I couldn’t do a year ago. I really couldn’t. That’s really helped.”

The therapy pool here is small and warm, providing enough space for a patient and therapist but leaving lots of room for progress.

“Buoyancy allows you to have less body weight going through your joints, so in general it’s much easier for people to move in a pool,” VanHouzen says. “The nice thing about this pool in particular is we keep it at 92 degrees, so it’s comfortable to get into.”

The work in the pool eventually led to more land-based therapy for Foged as well.

“The water provides you a safety net and allow you to exercise and use those muscles your body was designed to use, and if there’s compensation issues or healing issues, I think that it’s incumbent on us as individuals to bring that body back into the condition it’s designed to be,” he says.

It’s his work ethic and gumption that’s helped him find such success in his therapy.

“He’s done such a great job because of his attitude, he wants to push and do more and more and this aqua therapy has allowed him to do that,” VanHousen says. “He’s got the balance and the confidence that he can to that now.”


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